With the games running out in the Premier League campaign, so much remains undecided. One of the most interesting issues in the English top flight is who will survive and beat the drop to the Championship.
Teams still have time to rise and fall, while some will fall. The biggest consequence of failure is falling into the second tier of English football. For many clubs, that’s unthinkable. However, it’s the reality of the situation they find themselves in.
Just too close to call
In Premier League seasons gone by, there may have been a team that was cut adrift and looked like a relegation certainly. However, even the bottom three are well in touch with the teams above them this season.
Bottom eight of the Premier League table as of Friday, 3rd March 2023
|Position||Team||Games played||Won||Draw||Lost||Goals for||Goals against||Goal difference||Points|
|16th||West Ham United||24||6||5||13||23||29||-6||23|
As you can see from the above table, it is incredibly tight going into this weekend’s fixtures. There are some games this weekend that could prove pivotal in the fight for survival too. Nottingham Forest and Everton go head-to-head at the City Ground on Sunday in a game that the visitors can ill afford to lose.
In Saturday’s late Premier League kick-off, Southampton host Leicester City at St Marys in a vital game for both teams. The outcome of the two games could make the relegation picture slightly clearer.
Struggling to score goals
Teams tend to be in a relegation fight if they struggle at one end of the field or the other. The teams that do both are doomed to life in the league below. For example, 18th-place Everton are the lowest scorers in the league, having found the net just 17 times this season.
Unfortunately for the Toffees, they haven’t looked like a major threat in attack for much of this season. Until the recent 4-0 drubbing at Arsenal, their defensive record was not terrible, though. Toffees head coach Sean Dyche now has problems at both ends of the pitch.
Nottingham Forest and Wolves have scored just a goal more than the Merseysiders. However, the latter have not really been prolific in any of their recent campaigns in the English top flight and survived due to a solid defensive record.
Forest are struggling in front of goal, despite bringing in several forward players in the summer, including Nigerian international pair Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis.
The situation is simple: If a team don’t score goals, it doesn’t win football matches. If it doesn’t win football matches, then it will be involved at the wrong end of the table, no matter what league it is in.
Poor at both ends of the field
The ultimate kiss of death for a team in a relegation battle is when they are poor at both ends of the field. Unsurprisingly, the bottom two teams, Southampton and Bournemouth, have the worst defensive records in the league, having also been relatively poor in attack.
The Saints have scored just two more goals than the impotent Everton, while Bournemouth has been slightly better in attack, scoring 22 times. However, neither team could be called prolific in front of goal.
Their poor defensive records have given the two teams from the south coast the worst goal differences in the league. With the fight for survival so tight and so much to play for, goal difference may come into play at some stage in the season.
A fight to the end
There is little sign of any team giving up in the fight for survival in the Premier League this season. Most teams’ recent results have been inconsistent rather than woeful, which shows that all of the teams in the bottom eight still have a chance of survival.
It seems unlikely that any team is going to be cut adrift in the fight for survival, so the relegation battle could go down to the wire this season. In the closing stages of the 2022/23 season, the battle to stay out of the bottom three at the end of the campaign could be the most interesting of the issue left to decide in the English top-flight.